Sunday, September 28, 2008

I signed up

After a 12 mile run on Saturday and 7.5 miles on Sunday, I felt either confident or stupid enough to sign up for the California International Marathon on December 7. I did this race in 2006 and its was the only marathon I really consider to be a success. I have about 9 weeks to get ready for this race. I define ready as as

1) At least three long runs over 16 miles with a long of 19-20 miles. In 2006, my three long runs were 16, 17.2 and 18.7.

2) Avoid injury and colds. In 2006 I never got injured and never got sick, which is why my training was so consistent. I have been feeling great the last few months; my right quad is a little sore after this weekend but nothing too scary.

3) Get in the zen state of mind. In 2006, I was driving to the race and listening to an interview with Mark Allen, the six-time Ironman winner. I love his philosophy of staying in the moment, that no matter how bad you feel in one moment, that can quickly change and if you just ride it out you will make it to the finish. His new book come comes out December 1 which will give me 6 days to get into the Zen.

4) Nailing my race goals which are: a) finish; b) run the entire race; c) break 3:30; d) break 3.27.40.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Shows Game

I think we just had the first seminal event in the presidential election. Today McCain recommended postponing the first debate so he, of infinite wisdom, could rush to DC and save the economy. I guess his eight years of pushing government deregulation of the financial sector wasn’t working well. My first reaction was Obama had no choice but to agree or else he would come across as a crass politician. He blew of my advice and said no way John Boy, we are debating; if you can’t multitask it’s not my problem. He showed conviction and leadership, not backing down to an idle threat. This is the man to solve our economic crisis and global image problem. Because he showed spine.

This morning I was interviewing a 20 something person for a mid level position in PR (who actually had no experience in PR). He wasn’t the worst candidate I have ever interviewed but he shared a common trait with 90% of them. Zero questions. Nothing. I even prompted him several times. What are you looking for in an agency? Where do you want to be in two years? Even the
lob of all lobs; do you have any questions? Nothing besides the usual “I read your web site and it all makes sense.” Nothing sells like curiosity, whether you want a job or want to be my friend. Even if he, after looking at my frightening number of Lance pictures had said “so you like Lance” I would have been impressed.

I really have never had any competitors in running or triathlons. I am mostly competing against laziness or against the clock. But these inanimate goals, while they do provide motivation, don’t provide the primal emotional spur that a living, breathing human does. Problem is I don’t really know anyone who is close to my level since for some reason I am not friends with any serious endurance athletes. Not that I am serious but most of the people I know who run or tri have an actual life so don’t take train as much as me. Which is why I am friends with them. If I met someone like me they would bore me to death. So I need to identify people who I can compete against who have no idea I exist or that we are in competition. Like the boyfriend of a coworker. We are both running the California International Marathon and according to have similar half marathon times. Dude is going down. Even if he doesn’t know or care.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


For some reason I have issues with meetings involving groups of people organized around a common theme. It can be religion, work, hobbies (e.g., triathlon clubs), politics but they make me feel squirmy like someone is touching my nipples. I don’t know if it’s the case of not wanting to join a club that would have me as a member but I get uncomfortable. Small groups don’t cause this feeling. This probably isn’t rational and is topic 421 to explore when my head is shrunk and my body is sprawled vertical.

The buzz of semi-committing to the California International Marathon is still there; I haven’t officially signed up for it but the intention to has already given my training a little psychological boost. Of course, I am still on the same basic workout schedule – 8 miles/day, four days a week, lifting three days a week but I feel like there is more of a purpose then veins on the bicep. Still, running and lifting do get monotonous, unlike when I was training for a triathlon and I was balancing two other activities. But the conundrum is I really didn’t enjoy the triathlon race experience, other than the finishing part. The benefit of being in super shape and glowing is more a by product of the training experience. The race itself to me is a bunch of jangly nerve endings and logistical complexities. So. After the December marathon, I am going to start training for a triathlon without actually intending to do one. Maybe the joy of training with a variety of gear will make me forget the pain of racing. So I can once again be on the starting line of a half or full Ironman or and have two thoughts in my head – “what the hell am I doing here” and “will I be a pussy if I go home now.”

So the launch of the Gphone/G1 did nothing to solve my cell phone indecision. From the first reports it looks like it has the same it factor as the iPhone, but isn’t both a work and leisure tool. As of now, it has no connectivity into corporate email systems so it’s useless to me. More and more it’s looking like Blackberry is the way to go. I’ll think about it for another 10 months.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Today a client told a co-worker that I seemed “Lance Armstrongesque.” While I am overjoyed at his understanding of my Christ-like state, I can’t decide if this observation is because I too seem driven to cure the world of a major affliction while banging celebrities and participating or winning major endurance events or because he snuck into my office and saw my ridiculous homage to Lance (plus throw in my “I don’t know anyone with cancer but I worship Lance” Live Strong band).

You are not supposed to worry or focus on the small stuff because it is a waste of time. But then where are you supposed to get your satisfaction from accomplishing things because most of life is the small stuff. Every day my to do list contains about 15 things, of which about 14 are small, piddly things. But I get just as much satisfaction out of of checking the box next to “take creatine” or “read Friedman” as I do out of “figure out your reason for living.” And I still have yet to check that last one off.

After 45 minutes, most business meetings degenerate into who can repeat the same thought over and over again while maintaining at least an ounce of originality. There are some meetings that need to go over 45, but most become a contest in posturing and pontification. In a grad school class on American Politics, we all had to give oral presentations. Most of the people went on for about 35-40 minutes. I was one of the last ones to go and I made it through about 12 minutes and I was done. I felt like I had blown the assignment because I had not gone into enough detail, but the other students seemed relieved and thought I did a great job by keeping it brief. But they could or would not do the same.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Conversations with Dog

The weekend’s plan was to run 10 miles on Saturday and Sunday to prove to myself that I had it physically and mentally to train for the California International Marathon in early December. I made it through the first 10 but today cut it down to 7. Does this mean I am a failure, that I don’t have the right stuff? Call it a ridiculous rationalization but I think I am still good to go. First, I have a golden rule that I choose to ignore when I feel super motivated after reading an article about Lance, or I feel bloated or when I read an entry by some random blogger I follow on their latest amazing workout or race. I get all steamed and say lets do some big volume of training, like 10 and 10. My golden rule is don’t run more than eight miles more than once any week. The golden rule is both to prevent injury, which I am susceptible to when I train for marathons, and burn out (I was fried after the Saturday 10). So I obeyed by brain but not my ego. But ego will be back in force this weekend when I try to do 12.

An expression I am getting completely tired of is “in the spirit of bipartisanship.” It is back in full force, Obama being the offender, as in “I will examine Paulson’s plan in the spirit of bipartisanship.” Does this mean he is doing it to appear bipartisan, that he is considering each side which he normally doesn’t do or that he is doing it because it is the smart thing to do? Obeying the spirit of the law doesn’t necessarily mean you are obeying it. Spirit of anything is up there with expressions like “no offense (you are about to be offensive), “I am too busy to do it,” (you have no interest in doing it) or “let’s get together again soon” (let’s stick to seeing each other every 15 months).

I spent yesterday with Murphy, a coworker’s cocker spaniel. He is an awesome dog but he doesn’t talk. I have never really spent time alone with a dog. I had a cat growing up and they are not particularly social animals. They check in every now and then but don’t really invite conversations. Dogs are social; they are constantly in your face, demanding your attention. It was just Murph and I alone for about three hours and I found myself uncomfortable with the silence between us. At first I tried to make conversation but I got sick of the stone cold silence that followed my questions. I know dogs don’t talk but if you are going to be so social and love attention, you gotta give me something.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cableless/clueless and Twitter Friends

In order to sign up for the California International Marathon, I gave myself a test. This weekend i have to run 10 miles both on Saturday and Sunday. I run 8 miles a day, four days a week so it's not really a physical challenge to run 10 miles, although today's 10 miler was tough. I get stuck on the mental issues of 10 miles - the fact that it's greater than an hour, more than a step beyond my usual run and in the double digits. But endurance sports are all about callousing the mind into slowly expanding its criteria for what constitutes long. I used to consider four miles a normal run, where now six is short. Hopefully I won't be whining to myself the entire run tomorrow like today.

I shut off cable about six months ago and they shut me off four months after that. So I am without sports, reality TV and Friends reruns. It's not that big a deal since I prefer reading about sports events and looking at the stats compared to watching them. If I care about one of the teams playing in the contest, I get to nervous to watch and if I don't have a rooting interest I am too bored. And it is not that big a sacrifice to give up the Hills. So I have been surviving by watching The Wire on Netflix and The Office on Hulu (thanks to Colin Northway). I am not sure if this lack of cable is making me smarter but it is certainly making me cheaper.

Update on the Twitter phenomena - I was at @eggontop's party (name is Elena but I am using her Twitter handle for effect) and there were three other people who I track on Twitter (and visa versa) at the party. I know things about these people through their updates that I would normally only know about close friends yet this knowledge didn't produce any meaningful conversations other than about MC Hammer. And it is weird to even bring up the Twitters to them. It's like saying I saw you naked in the bathroom and didn't know you have a hairy back. But I'll keep following them, just not necessarily talking to them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Google Phone and Honesty in Business

I have been paralyzed by indecision on whether or not to buy another cell phone. The issues, beyond my own need to validate myself through a cool phone? The iPhone is cool, has loads of interesting if meaningless applications (other than Avego) and brands you techno-hip, but I hate the touchscreen keyboard and it doesn’t work well for corporate email/calendaring. The Blackberry has none of the Apple buzz but is much more practical AND has brickbreaker. Sprint Instinct is a Sprint phone. Nuf said. My Treo 650 still works well but the whole industry and public is basically shunning it and Palm. Do I want to be in the coalition of the shunned? And finally the upcoming HTC Dream AKA Google phone, which will be announced on Tuesday. I said I would wait until the Gphone came out before buying a new phone so the waiting may be about to end.

I am not sure if honesty is always the best policy in business. I went to lunch today with a former client who is with a new company. I thought it would be a good new business opportunity. I water and dine him over Pad See Yew with chicken, tell a few intelligent and funny stories and presto, I have a new client. Except he started the conversation with how much he hates his job and his company. From there, I could not smoothly ask him if a blog strategy would change anything. And when he asked me how I was doing at work, I went with the generic, unthinking "things are good" response almost by rote. That kind of killed the conversation since I didn't meet his honesty with an equal peak behind the curtains. So we bitched about California public schools and called it a day.

Tonight’s podcast is going to be on the financial meltdown, instant replay is killing sports, and celebrity blogging. I have to somehow figure out how to drive our listener base beyond 30 people. I admit, this is 30 more people than I would expect to listen to my uninformed opinions but I have done the Facebook group thing, the mass email, the blog banner (see above). Maybe having more friends would help.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alcohol and sponsorship

The reasons for my passion for Lance are many. Other than his ridiculous fitness level, drive and passion for endurance sports, the primary reason for my adulation is his simplification of decisions into right or wrong, black or white, on or off, one or zero. He doesn’t spend a lot of time agonizing over decisions, or reflecting backwards on ones that go wrong. Sure, introspection can be important but there is more time wasted doing that than intelligence gained. I want that, I need that, the clarity of the pure decision. In my work experience the VP, marketing and CEOs I admire aren’t the ones who make smart decisions, it's the one who make and fast ones. Fire, aim, ready.

I will get sponsored. Whether it is Zappos, Sports Basement Schwartz Communications, or Baker Breakfast Cookies in the next six months someone is going to pay me, in cash, goods or services for the chance to associate their brand with my fanatic addiction to endurance sports. My value has to be in my commitment rather than my performance since I don’t really have the results or the game. I am kind of like the Sarah Palin of marathons and triathlons. Like Palin, I am not the best at what I do but I appeal to the average Joe who wants to see themselves in me. I might not be able to win the New York Marathon but with a little luck and hard work I could finish 5,256th. Don’t admire the A game, go with the C+.

I have almost reached my end point with alcohol. I was never a committed drinker. In high school, college and into my mid 20s, I could hang for one weekend party of many beers or mixed drinks but would limp my way through the next night with no second wind. Then I started becoming a lightweight once I had kids. Sleep was hard to come by with screaming babies so the sleep better be sober and pure. Divorce followed and the drinker in me was reborn for a couple of years. But once my endurance addiction took hold, even the slightest hangover was a huge bummer. Last night two glasses of wine turned me into a whiny bitch (read in the voice of Omar of The Wire) this morning. I don’t like the pain of the next morning at all. It’s worse then my friends yelling at me for being no fun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Personal growth and PR Parties

Rebecca was commenting yesterday that my blog entries from 2005 are almost exactly the same as from this week. Does that make me a consistent person true to my beliefs and passions or a boring person who is not evolving on any level? Also, should the events, if there are any, that are contributing to my evolution, be documented and easy to detect on my psyche through a few random paragraphs every few months? OK, so a big event yesterday was deciding to do the California International Marathon with December 7 with Duanne. When Jesus saved another soul, did everyone get bored and say not again, go work on your carpenter skills for Pharaoh's sake?

I have one of my two weekly conversations with Ben today who is in school in Bend, OR. It is amazing speaking with him because nine months ago he would not even talk to me, and now we have these open and honest (although short) conversations about anything. It is also slightly nerve wracking in that I am trying to cram substantive bits into the discussion but also want to keep it light, all within a seven and 15 minute time limit. He definitely gets it and he ends up sounding like the adult most of the time.

I am going to a party tonight at Emily and Kathleen's new office. They opened their own PR agency about a year ago and are showing off their new crib. The invite list is hilarious; former coworkers who all work at semi competitive agencies. Kind of like Obama winning and inviting all the key members of the McCain campaign. Although I don't think anyone takes high tech PR as seriously as Karl Rove. I am trying to get approval from Emily to Twitter live from the party on the fascinating discussions on open source and cloud computing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random Bits

Colin Northway is pissing me off. He is the faceless stranger who lives within 60 feet of me who has generously, without knowledge,been providing me with free WiFi for the last year or so. I think he found out and I have now been bounced off his network. Maybe he objected to the amount of times I was accessing for the latest Lance update or searching in vain for more friends on Facebook in order to catch Tbex. I think I need to actually contact him to try and share the cost of his service. But that would require talking to a neighbor. Unprecedented.

Don’t ever try and wear a Dri Fit shirt that you use for running on a plane. You will be shunned. For the first time ever, I underpacked this weekend and ended up with no clean shirts for my plane ride home, other than a running shirt that I had “washed” in the shower. Thinking that it would be OK to wear, I wore it for the 3 hour drive to JFK and didn’t think there were any problems (It’s not necessarily a good thing to be used to your own odor) until the pregnant woman sitting next to me in aisle 11 on the Virgin America flight practically started gagging. And my friend Dave barely acknowledged me when we surprisingly discovered we were on the same plane. So I did a subtle change into a sweater and pregnant lady stopped gagging and merely glared at me for the rest of the trip. She didn't like the hot bodies on Entourage.

The comeback of Lance has motivated me to reengage in endurance sport events rather than just aimlessly run 8 miles a day, four days \ a week. It probably won’t be anything new; I’ll go back to running a marathon or Ironman with more ambitious goals. But I also need a mission that has nothing to do with running or lifting, like Lance’s cancer mission. And I don’t have a
clue. It has to motivate me and inspire me, rather than be a checklist item like volunteering for some cause, done.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Losing the Fitness Edge

I spent the weekend with Sam playing a lot of football, which constitutes the two of us throwing the ball back and forth to each other, occasionally running pass routes to make it more realistic. We also went to the track and timed each other running 40 yard dashes, the typical distance for football players. This reinforced that I my lack of speed has only gotten worse as I have gotten older, and sprinting is hard. I ran 6-8 miles all three days at my usual 7:15 to 7:45 per mile pace this weekend with little problem, but sprinting 40 yards is a wrenching painful process. Should I fight this example of aging?

I can still run distances over three miles as fast as ever and I am lifting more (albeit with the help of Creatine) than ever so I am not I total physical decline. However, my 12 and 14 year-old sons are definitely starting to surpass me in activities requiring constant explosive action such
as jumping (basketball) and stopping and starting (football, tag, basketball). I have no fear of losing to them, especially if I am trying my hardest, but given that my physical prowess is so important to me, I have a big fear of watching the inevitable decline spread across other activities as measured by my regular eight-mile run and bench press number

To prolong this from happening, I should shake things up and stop doing the same thing every workout, which I have been doing for over 10 years. It doesn’t need to be radical change. One speed and agility workout a day, stretch every day, should do it. But am I prepared to get out of my workout rut? My goal was always to get to a place where I was doing a hard workout everyday but it had gotten to the point of repetition, that I was physically able to do it relatively easily and mentally it was rote like brushing my teeth. I am at that point but rote is not going to cut it if I want to hang with Sam and Ben in one-on-one basketball much longer.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Social networking

To continue a rant from the latest podcast; I don’t know what to think of social networks and their affect on my social life. I like being around people and having friends, but I lose momentum once the interactions become less frequent. In high school and college, it was easy to maintain friendships. You saw your friends everyday and you could engage in my favorite topics of discussion; the everyday minutia of life. After college when we moved to different cities, the everyday discussion ended and it became weekly or monthly conversations where the discussions was either a summary of the minutia (less compelling), big events (less interesting) or dead air. And I don’t like talking on the phone.

So the result has been friendships that have stalled or died all together. And this includes some of my closest friends. It’s sad but seemed inevitable. Enter social networks. The beauty of Facebook is two fold. First, with everyone joining and the network effect kicking in, you can find people from high school who you haven’t talked to in years. One click and they are in your group. Second, you can quickly, after the initial, “summarize my life in the last 25 years” email, start sending quick snippets every couple of days that provide random updates on the minutia of your life. This can also be done with Facebook status updates or using Twitter. For example, Elena just lost her job and got engaged on the same day and let everyone know using Facebook. Some might call this impersonal but boom, in 15 seconds she let everyone know what was going on in her life.

With my fear of the phone, Facebook et al seem like the solution for being a social guy. But there are drawbacks. I have been accused of keeping things on the surface. It is relatively easy to get to know me on a basic level but becoming close to me is hard. I put up walls around me which prevent real friendships from forming. Does Facebook, which as a medium keeps things surface, perpetuate this even further. Does connecting with 345 people at once equal having in depth conversations with six. Quality over quantity?